Rowan County wins in extra innings
By Bill Kiser
STATESVILLE ó Head coach Jim Gantt has had to depend on some young and inexperienced players during the opening week of Rowan County’s American Legion season.
While those youngsters have made some mistakes, they’ve also learned one big thing ó how to win.
Rowan scored two runs in the top half of the 10th inning to beat Statesville 6-4 on Tuesday for its first division win.
Rowan (3-1, 1-1) posted its second consecutive victory ó it beat West Forsyth 11-10 in eight innings Monday ó after trailing by a pair of runs early, then fighting back to tie the score in the third inning.
“We made some plays tonight, but we also left a lot of runs out there,” Gantt said. “It’s not that the guys are nervous, it’s that they’re trying to do something. Sometimes trying too hard is the worst thing you can do.
“But they’ve come out on top the last two nights, so sometimes the best thing to do is to leave them alone and let them do their thing.”
And Rowan did its thing in a game that appeared to be a hitter’s dream only to turn into a pitcher’s duel.
Relievers and a key defensive stop by Rowan decided the contest.
Rowan closer Tanner Brown allowed just two hits over the final four innings to get the win, while Statesville reliever Nick Burwell gave up the game-winning runs off two hits, two errors and a walk.
Rowan also kept Statesville from taking the lead in the bottom of the eighth when Justin Mock threw out Tanner Stroud at home for the final out in the inning. Stroud had reached on a fielder’s choice and tried to score on Aaron Johnson’s double down the third-base line.
In the top of the 10th, Mock led off with a single, then moved to third on a wild pitch and error. After Luke Thomas walked, Mock scored on Parker Gobbel’s RBI single. Another error allowed Chris Jacobs to reach and load the bases, and a walk to Philip Miclat produced the final run.
Rowan and Statesville (2-3, 1-2) combined for eight runs and 11 hits in the first three innings against starters Billy Veal and Daniel Warricks.
Rowan took the lead in the top of the first inning on an RBI double by Russell Michalec and Veal’s run-scoring single, but Statesville came back in the bottom half on Tyler Christenberry’s leadoff home run and Stroud’s sacrifice fly.
After the Owlz assumed the lead in the bottom of the second on Chris Bustle’s homer and Nick Stutts’ RBI double, Rowan tied the score in the top of the third on Jacobs’ run-scoring groundout and Tyler King’s RBI single.
Both starting pitchers settled down and found their groove after that. Veal retired 13 consecutive batters, including five straight on strikeouts between the fourth and sixth innings, while Warricks held Rowan to four hits over six scoreless innings.
“It had rained earlier, and my hands were getting a little wet,” Veal said. “Once I figured that out and adjusted to it, I started shutting them down.”
Notes: Mock went 4-for-4 and scored a pair of runs for Rowan, and Miclat added a pair of hits. … Stutts and Johnson each had two hits for Statesville.